University considers alternative grading system for online semester

Recommendations+on+alternative+grading+systems+will+be+shared+with+University+President+Michael+Lovell.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Recommendations on alternative grading systems will be shared with University President Michael Lovell.

Discussions are underway among Marquette administrators about switching to pass/fail or other grading options for students during the semester’s online courses.

Implementing a pass/fail grading system would mean that professors would forgo a traditional grading scale, which consists of letter grades such as A, B, C and so on. Instead, professors would provide passing credit for students who received points in the class above a certain threshold. Those who do not meet the threshold would receive failing marks and not receive credit. The consideration is happening amid the university’s transition to online classes following concerns about spreading COVID-19 on campus.

“Alternative grading plan policy recommendations are under discussion today by the deans and vice provosts, the Executive Committee of University Academic Senate and the Executive committee of MUSG,” university spokesperson Chris Stolarski said in an email Thursday.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison recently decided to offer a pass/fail grading option for students. The university’s provost, Karl Scholz, noted that students “are scattered around the nation and world, across time zones and with disparate access to high speed internet and other learning resources.” He said the administration acknowledges “challenges the curtailment of economic activity and the variability of technology has on our lives.”

UW-Madison joined other universities, such as Duke University in North Carolina, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, which also instituted alternative grading options in recent weeks.

It is unclear what Marquette’s proposed alternative grading system consists of. Stolarski said based on discussions, recommendations will be shared with University President Michael Lovell, and the decision will be announced to the public “as soon as possible.”

Marquette University Student Government executive board had a meeting Thursday discussing university proposals to implement a pass/fail grading system, according to a post on the Instagram account of MUSG President Sara Manjee and Executive Vice President Daniel Brophy. The post informed viewers to stay tuned for an update Friday.

Manjee, a senior in the College of Business Administration, declined to speak further on the topic until after the university announces its decision to the Marquette community.

This story was written by Kelli Arseneau. She can be reached at kelli.arseneau@marquette.edu.